Sunday August 4 2019, C3.4 & C3.5, 11:50 AEST

I have invested huge amounts of time in achieving a simple goal – making the lighting in my home “smart”. It’s not ground breaking, nor is it practical or cost effective, but it sure was educational, uses a bunch of Python, and the result makes me (and my family) happy.

Scenario: You have a houseful of “smart” light bulbs, based on ZigBee. The vendor software and hardware is pretty much completely broken. You have one seemingly simple goal in mind: if you turn the lights on in the middle of the night, they should be dim. It’d be nice to have a single button by the front door that turns off the entire house. Oh, and find a way to make up for the terrible placement of light switches in this house. And most of all, not require unlocking my phone and using some app to control the lights!! Seriously who wants to use their phone to turn on their lights?

Join me on my adventure, starting with lights that don’t work, a soldering iron, a Wikipedia page about ZigBee, and an unhealthy misunderstanding of the sunk cost fallacy. And Python!

Over time, I acquired software defined radios, ZigBee transceivers, extremely worrying firmware updates, a mitre saw, hundreds of RGB leds, a baby, more 8051 assembly than anticipated, some familiarity with asyncio, more ZigBee devices, and finally… success.

This was my first time using asyncio, and it really worked well for this project. I hope you can walk away from this talk with an appreciation of how asyncio is life-changing and how home automation can actually be a great thing. And you might even see a light bulb running async Python code.

Watch 'It's dark and my lights aren't working (an asyncio success story)' on PyCon AU's YouTube account

Jim Mussared

Jim Mussared

Jim works full time on MicroPython related projects and loves all things embedded and electronics. He has previously worked in education, teaching Python & MicroPython to school students (at Grok Learning) and before that in Site Reliability Engineering (at Google). He particularly loves teaching, and has been a lecturer and tutor at the National Computer Science School, teaching electronics and robotics to high school students for the past 7 years.